When you watch someone stand on the stage presenting a training session, or just speaking in general, do all of the ideas presented have to be their own? I ask because I’ve seen many speakers present a mix of their own ideas with those (properly cited) of others that they have learned from. Meanwhile, I’ve seen many newer speakers struggle because they believe that the content they provide has to be entirely their own.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting or condoning plagiarism. I’m talking about presenting other people’s ideas for success based on how they resonate with you. Doing this actually ads to your credibility as a speaker. How? By letting the audience know 3 things (these I learned from Craig Valentine)
1. It’s the process on the pedestal, not the speaker (you)
2. There are other guru’s out there in our lives that we can learn from
3. As the speaker, you had problems similar to those your audience faces now (you were just like them) – until you learned these ideas from others
A good method that I have seen includes telling a story about how you, the speaker, overcame an obstacle with the help of another person’s ideas (Craig’s term is guru). Tell your audience how that person’s ideas or maybe just a verbal slap in the face made a difference in how you were able to address a problem or a need. Just make sure you leave them with a way to take the message and use it.
For instance, I could have a story about how I was having trouble getting help for our organization’s booth at a festival a number of years ago. Despite e-mails and flyers, I was not getting the turnout I needed to successfully run this booth. Time was running short, and I was worried that I would be seen as a failure if I could not make this event work, especially since our group had been successful many times before. My Chief at the time, Chief Kray, told me I needed to have face to face conversations with every person I could to solicit the help I needed. When I followed his advice, I not only filled up my list, but had additional volunteers to help reduce the workload across the event. By taking the time to “Talk to the Human”, I was able to be successful, and so can you.
Problem – I need volunteers, but e-mail and flyers aren’t getting results
Escalation – I was running short of time
Solution – My guru, Chief Kray, gave me a path to success
Audience Takaway – Talk to the Human™
Additional Note: In a live presentation, I would include more information about the festival (it was in Japan), the fund raising goal of manning the booth, and a few other details to make it feel more tangible to the audience.
Being successful means using all of your tools and all of the information at your disposal. Just like a great author will cite sources of information, a great speaker has to rely on and pass on the wisdom of others. When you respect your audience enough to tell them where and how you came to learn something, and subsequently where and how they can learn more, you increase your credibility, your value, and your success as a speaker.